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'A Thousand Cranes'

In Japanese tradition, if a person folds 1,000 paper origami cranes, they will get their greatest wish. Such is the premise of "A Thousand Cranes," by Kathryn Schultz Miller, playing one weekend only, Nov. 9-11, at Oregon Stage Works' Ashland Children's Theatre.

The show runs at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at Oregon Stage Works, 191 A St., Ashland.

"A Thousand Cranes" is based on the book "Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes" by Eleanor Coerr, which tells the true story of a young girl's courage and wish for peace.

Sadako Sasaki, a young victim of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, was only 2 years old when the bomb fell. She seemed to be unharmed, but at 12 she developed "radiation sickness."

With boundless optimism, she takes an old story to heart: If a sick person folds 1,000 paper origami cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her well again.

She begins to fold her 1,000 cranes. Sadako's friends and classmates finished her work. They folded enough cranes to make 1,000.

Today children in Japan and all over the world fold 1,000 cranes and lay them at the feet of Sadako's statue in the Hiroshima Peace Park. Their wish is engraved at the bottom of the monument: "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world."

"A Thousand Cranes," features 13 Ashland Children's Theatre student actors, ages 10-16, and is directed by Bruce A. Hostetler.

Hostetler has directed opera, musicals and theatrer productions from New York to Santa Cruz, including numerous world premieres. He co-created and directed the first four of the Rogue Opera's touring children's shows and is currently working on the fourth.

He also directed last spring's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as well as Ashland Children's Theatre "The Snow White Project."

A short prologue performance of Jan Acord's "The Great Wave," directed by Eve Smyth, will play on all but the Saturday matinee.

"The Great Wave" is based on an old Japanese folk tale about a rice farmer who sacrifices his rice fields to save his village from a tsunami. Acord, a resident of Talent, lived in Japan for several months in the early 1960s where she studied Japanese theater and culture.

Acord calls this a "no noh" play as it incorporates Japanese theater elements, but with its own style. Drums, chanting, and movement are used to tell this story of community.

"The Great Wave" will be performed by student actors, ages 6 to 8. Smyth teaches acting and improvisation at Ashland Children's Theatre and has written several plays for their productions; "The Fairy Meeting," "The Peter Pan Project," and "The Snow White Project."

With the help of their friends and families, the cast of "A Thousand Cranes" has been folding cranes with the intent of sending 1,000 to the Hiroshima Peace Park at the closing of the production.

The audience is invited to bring cranes to the performances to add to their efforts. As in Sadako's story, it is all of us working together that can make the call for peace louder.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $12 at the door; and $5 for children, ages 6-17, $6 at the door. Tickets are available at The Music Coop, Ashland and Grocery Outlet in Medford.

Call 482-2334, ext. 2.

A scene from the Ashland Children's Theatre’s production of “A Thousand Cranes.” - Photo by Jenny Graham